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Karen Kornbluh

Senior Fellow for Digital Policy

Expertise

Digital policy, international economic policy, women's issues, anti-bribery/rule of law, social policy.

Programs

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy

Bio

Karen Kornbluh is senior fellow for digital policy at the Council on Foreign Relations. She served as U.S. ambassador in Paris to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the global economic standard-setting organization. Kornbluh ensured budget and activities reflected the president's strategic economic and development priorities working closely with U.S. cabinet secretaries and White House officials. As the representative of the largest donor, she served on the OECD governing board and audit committee overseeing the OECD's two thousand staff and $400 million budget.

Kornbluh spearheaded development of the first global Internet Policymaking Principles. She worked with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to launch the OECD's Gender Initiative and the Middle East-North Africa Women's Business Forum. In addition, Kornbluh led efforts to expand the OECD's reach to emerging economies, refocused the organization on developing countries, and expanded anticorruption and governance efforts. Her work was featured in a New York Times profile and a Washington Post op-ed on "The Foreign Policy of the Internet."

Previously, Kornbluh served as policy director for then Senator Obama. She served in the Clinton administration as deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Treasury Department, and as director of the Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the Federal Communications Commission.

Prior to her government service, Kornbluh was a management consultant at Telesis and Townsend-Greenspan & Co. Kornbluh has written extensively on economic, technology, and family policy in publications including the New York TimesWashington PostAtlantic Monthly, and Harvard Journal of Law and Technology. She founded the New America Foundation's Work and Family Program.

Featured Publications

Op-Ed

Beyond Borders: Fighting Data Protectionism

Author: Karen Kornbluh
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

The free flow of information across borders is essential for the modern economy, but a growing number of countries have erected restrictions curtailing a free and open Internet. Karen Kornbluh discusses what diplomatic and policy steps the United States can take to safeguard the free flow of information worldwide.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity

All Publications

Article

Climate Crisis, Credit Crisis: The Quest for Green Growth

Authors: Karen Kornbluh, Kemal Dervis, Sarah Puritz, and Abigail Jones
Brookings Institution Press

As the global economy struggles to sustain its recovery from the deepest recession in sixty years, another challenge looms large: preventing the Earth from warming more than 3.6 °F, widely considered by climate experts as the acceptable level to reduce the risk of irreversible global damage resulting from climate change.

See more in Energy and Environment; Global

Article

The Green Bank

Authors: Karen Kornbluh and John D. Podesta
Center for American Progress

Karen Kornbluh, along with John Budesta, proposes that the creation of a new Green Bank could lead to the steady and reliable creation of clean-energy jobs and would be a crucial element of the transition to a clean-energy economy.

See more in Energy and Environment; Global

Article

Running Faster to Stay in Place

Authors: Karen Kornbluh and Jared Bernstein
New America Foundation

Despite a rise in the number of hours worked by married-couple families with children, middle and lower income families no longer see increasing returns to their hours worked. Karen Kornbluh and Jared Bernstein examine the link between wage growth and work hours in families of different incomes and recommend policy directions to respond to these trends.

See more in United States; Labor

Article

The Mommy Tax

Author: Karen Kornbluh
New America Foundation

Karen Kornbluh discusses discriminatory policies that account for the wage gap between men and women with children and recommends the more fully developed family policies of other industrialized countries.

See more in United States; Global; Women; Labor

Ask CFR Experts

Could the revelations regarding the NSA PRISM program hinder U.S. relations around the world?

Asked by Andre Ribeiro, from LaGuardia Community College

Revelations about the National Security Agency's (NSA) electronic surveillance program were met with tough words from many of the United States' allies. German leaders criticized the United States and France threatened to delay the start of U.S.-EU trade talks. More recently, Brazilian president DilmaRousseff delivered a searing address to the United Nations General Assembly after canceling a state visit to the White House.

Read full answer

See more in Global; United States; Defense and Security

Op-Ed

Beyond Borders: Fighting Data Protectionism

Author: Karen Kornbluh
Democracy: A Journal of Ideas

The free flow of information across borders is essential for the modern economy, but a growing number of countries have erected restrictions curtailing a free and open Internet. Karen Kornbluh discusses what diplomatic and policy steps the United States can take to safeguard the free flow of information worldwide.

See more in United States; Cybersecurity

Op-Ed

Why are So Many Single-Parent Families in Poverty?

Author: Karen Kornbluh
TheAtlantic.com

The United States is the only OECD country without paid maternity leave; a parent's job is not protected if he or she takes a day off to care for a sick child; and the United States still lacks affordable, high quality child care. Karen Kornbluh outlines the need to update the policies and practices that affect American families and discusses the benefits of health care reform for parents and children.

See more in United States; Poverty

Op-Ed

The Joy of Flex

Author: Karen Kornbluh
Washington Monthly

Citing the United Kingdom's "Right to Request" policy, Karen Kornbluh proposes empowering workers to ask for flexible scheduling in order to best accommodate the needs of working parents.

See more in United States; Labor; Women

Other Report

A New Framework for Cross-Border Data Flows

Author: Karen Kornbluh

The flow of data across international borders creates jurisdictional challenges and causes international tensions. Increasingly, countries have responded by imposing new requirements to store data locally, threatening cross-border data flows, which generate approximately $2.8 trillion of global gross domestic product each year. CFR Senior Fellow for Digital Policy Karen Kornbluh argues that the United States should take the lead in addressing these tensions.

See more in Europe; United States; Internet Policy; Privacy

Primary Sources

U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Kornbluh's Remarks on Foreign Policy for the Internet, January 2012

U.S. Ambassador to the OECD Karen Kornbluh spoke at the Brookings Institute on January 11, 2012. In her speech titled, "Principles of Internet Governance: An Agenda for Economic Growth and Innovation," she discussed the OECD's high-level meetings in June 2011 and the resulting principles countries can adopt to protect the flow of information and uphold policy concerns on the Internet.

See more in Global; Internet Policy; Technology and Foreign Policy

Events

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy

Director: Karen Kornbluh, Senior Fellow for Digital Policy
December 2013—Present

The Roundtable Series on Digital Policy brings together foreign policy and technology policy leaders to work toward a vision for a digital foreign policy to safeguard the open and secure Internet, ensuring it remains a platform for economic growth, innovation, and expression.

CFR Events

Meeting

Mobile Technology and Entrepreneurship in the Middle East: A Conversation with Christopher M. Schroeder

Speaker Christopher M. Schroeder

Author, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East


Presider Karen Kornbluh

Senior Fellow for Digital Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

December 5, 2014

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Data Protection and Privacy in the United States and the European Union: A Conversation with Julie Brill

Speaker Julie Brill

Commissioner, Federal Trade Commission


Presider Karen Kornbluh

Senior Fellow for Digital Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

December 17, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Meeting ⁄ Washington

Internet Governance in Developing Countries: A Conversation with Ambassador Daniel Sepulveda

Speaker Daniel Sepulveda

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs


Presider Karen Kornbluh

Senior Fellow for Digital Policy, Council on Foreign Relations

December 16, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

Listen

Press/Panels

Video Interview

Role Models: Empowering Women and Inspiring Change

Identifying gender considerations as a driver of economic growth, Karen Kornbluh discusses Europe's efforts to create economic opportunities for women on a discussion panel with Linda Douglass, Melody Barnes, Madhulika Sikka, Margaret Spellings, Caryl M. Stern, and Neera Tanden.

Watch

Panel

Abolish the Minimum Wage

In an Intelligence Squared debate with James A. Dorn and Russell Roberts, Karen Kornbluh and Jared Bernstein argue against the elimination of the minimum wage, citing consequences for the knowledge economy, social mobility, and inequality. Karen Kornbluh and Jared Bernstein were declared the winners of the debate.

Watch

Article

Fighting for Economic Equality

The New York Times published a profile of Karen Kornbluh highlighting her efforts to prioritize gender considerations in international economic policy, particularly in light of the global economic crisis.

Video Interview

Interview with Marc Perelman

Karen Kornbluh discusses how the OECD will cooperate with emerging economies to address twenty-first century challenges with Mark Perelman of France 24.

Watch

Article

Karen Kornbluh: Ambassador of Women

Madame Figaro, the magazine supplement to the French newspaper Le Figaro, profiles Karen Kornbluh, one of only five female ambassadors to the OECD from thirty-four member countries. Republished in English by the U.S. Department of State.

Article

Thinking Big: Karen Kornbluh

Tim Fernholz praises Karen Kornbluh's Sydney Award-winning article, "Families Valued" (Democracy, 2006), in The American Prospect.

Article

Getting Inside Obama’s ‘Brain'

In an interview with CNN, Karen Kornbluh discusses her experience as Senator Barack Obama's policy director and the need for a modernized social insurance system to better meet the challenges faced by American families.

Watch